YMCA Supports Special Olympics Basketball Teams in Pursuit of State Title
Basketball fever is everywhere this spring, as NCAA March Madness begins and local schools head into the playoffs. The North Suburban YMCA will also be a center for basketball action in the coming weeks as it becomes a practice center for three District 225 teams preparing to go to the Special Olympics Illinois State tournament for the second straight year.
The Glenbrook United teams, which include special needs students from Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, and the district’s off-campus programs, are headed to the tournament at Illinois State University on March 16-17. The Girls’ Gold team qualified with an area gold medal win in December, while the Boys’ Gold and White teams each secured their spots with victories in area tournaments in January. A total of 23 students are now preparing to make the trip, practicing two to three hours a week under the leadership of coaches Pa’al Joshi, Kim Petty and Megan Williams. The Y will make its gym exclusively available to the team for practices on Fridays leading up to the tournament.
The Glenbrook United teams have had dramatic success since their formation in 2010. In addition to basketball, the program also sponsors teams in soccer, volleyball and track and field. In 2011, all three basketball teams went to the State tournament, and a co-ed volleyball team won the State Championship. The program has been honored by NSSED for its innovation and leadership.
Glenbrook United’s faculty sponsor Pa’al Joshi sees a multitude of benefits for the students who participate in the team. “They grow so much from the experience, learning how to play as a team, making new friends, and practicing sportsmanship,” Joshi commented. “Traveling to state is a real bonding experience. They’re all looking forward to it, but I think the coaches and I are just as excited to see them go through it together.” The students have also received encouragement within the schools, including parades through the hallways and recognition during Varsity basketball half-time breaks.
“The Y is very proud of these players and their accomplishment in qualifying for State,” noted YMCA Executive Director/CEO Howard Schultz. “We’re glad to make our facilities available so that they can have the best preparation possible for the tournament.”
About the North Suburban YMCA
The YMCA is a not-for-profit entity and relies on donations to fund capital improvements and transform the facility. All board members are community volunteers, who donate their time, talents and financial resources. Located at 2705 Techny Road in Northbrook, the YMCA has served area families in its twelve-city region for over 40 years. The Y is about youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, providing programs and services that meet the needs of our community and are accessible to all. For more information or to make a donation call Tara Bilby at 847-272-7250, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.nsymca.org.